2008 GENOCIDE OP-ED WRITING CONTEST
In our country, people die every day. They die of sickness, of accidents, of old age. We have come to know these causes, and we don’t think twice when we hear about them. In areas outside the United States, people die every day as well, particularly in Africa. But the causes of their deaths are what nightmares are made of. They are murdered. Even more terrifying, they have done nothing wrong to deserve their fate. They are victims of genocide, the persecution of a people based on race, religion, political stance and any other difference that may set one apart from another.
When we hear about a thing called, “the Holocaust”, we immediately think back to the Jews of Europe, the gas chambers, the six million eradicated from existence. When the Holocaust ended, the Jews had a saying. “Never again.” But what really is considered a holocaust? The word “holocaust” when spelled with a lowercase “h” translates literally to “death by fire.” Of course, the Holocaust was an example of genocide, but what sets it apart? Who decides when genocide becomes holocaust? You do.
The people of Sudan, of Rwanda, of Bosnia, they call for recognition. They scream to be heard. But their voices are drowned out by background noise. We hear about the celebrities of yesterday more than we hear about the genocide in Africa today. Hundreds of thousands have been murdered and more than a million have been displaced. We knowmore about what star is in rehab than the number of countless families that will be slaughtered tonight.
If I could advise the next U.S. President about how to end and prevent genocide, I would tell he or she to educate themselves, and to educate the people of the United States. The reason why the death has not miraculously stopped is that no one knows about it. The paparazzi does not cover the burning villages of Bosnia or the refugee camps of Sudan. Our heads are filled with nonsense when they could be filled with hope. Knowledge is the greatest strength of all, and ignorance is never bliss.
If the President chose to listen, we would hear more about genocide and more would be done about it. The people would feel the pain of those in need, and truly understand what it means to be persecuted for your differences. Care packs would be made. Children would be adopted. Genocide would be resolved. History would be created.
We, the American people, would distinguish genocide from holocaust, would make the world listen to the pleading voices, and would educate our planet on hate. Hate in itself will be the only thing eradicated when “Holocaust” comes to mind. And when we say “never again,” this time, it will be the truth.